The Liberal Agenda – RIP Geoff Murphy – you taught me everything about being a Pakeha New Zealander


With Goodbye Pork Pie, Sleeping Dogs, Utu & The Quiet Earth, Geoff Murphy taught me what it was to be a Pakeha New Zealander.

The unnerving angst to live on these shaky isles, the unlit fuse of fearful isolation that sits alongside injustice and disgust of petty authority, with each film Geoff taught me the uneasy alliance between my own existential pain and the terror of living on the fringe.

His passing is our deep loss. We are a quieter earth today.


  1. I was a teenager when Sleeping Dogs was released. I loved it, and I can still remember the intense pride I felt that we here in New Zealand had produced such a great film. (We didn’t call them movies then). He was a trailblazer for sure.

  2. and although it got panned by the critics,(punishment both for going to Hollywood then returning) Spooked …on the wine box conspiracy was bloody good!

  3. Nicely said. Geoff, combined with the iconic movies of Roger Donaldson (Sleeping Dogs and Smash Palace) and Vincent Ward (Vigil and
    The Navigator), very much shaped a core part of my childhood and helped me fully identify as a NZer (I have immigrant parents). I proudly have all of these wonderful films in my collection.

  4. Thank you, you are correct, it was Roger Donaldson with Sleeping Dogs. Murphy was following in his footsteps a few years later. Utu and the Quiet Earth are fantastic films. As is Sleeping Dogs……

  5. Here’s a few things.
    My father was a friend of Burt Monroe.
    Dad bought a Mk 10 Jaguar in Invercargill and as we were leaving the car sales building I short, busy man came up to Dad and much hand shaking ensued. It was Burt. I was a child but I managed a gidday.
    I knew John Britten reasonably well. I met John through a fellow called Colin Simpson who, like John, is dead at the moment. Colin taught me the finer points of photography. ( Namely. Who cares, really, about the quality, a photograph’s in what the eye sees. ) Colin worked for a time at the Listener. Colin won the NZ Press Photographer award three times, twice in a row. Colin was a brilliant and rebellious fellow and swung into gear protesting against a smelter in Aramoana. I have a beautiful black and white calendar by Colin to draw attention to Aramoana and to convince the smelter people to fuck right off. Which they did.
    Many years later and I’m a photographer and a location scout. I met Roger Donaldson and Ian Mune when they were putting The Worlds Fastest Indian film together.
    As a consequence of that, I was able to visit the Britten Factory and it was there that I saw the original Indian motorcycle. And there, on the side of one of the cylinders was my dads fine welding.
    As an aside.
    It was while Ian Mune and I were traveling back from Timaru, that Ian told me a story about a fellow in Australia who was in the process of making a documentary of how it was his opinion that the reason so many NZ/AO people got cancer was because of the nuclear testing regime undertaken in the AU outback. The bombs went off, nuclear dust was as a result. That dust got drawn up into the Blue Gum forests then they, as they do, went on fire. The nuclear dust, now ash, rose into the upper atmosphere and blows over the Tasman, is drawn out of the moisture laden winds from AU via the ‘fern effect’ on the Alps, goes into our rivers, down into our aquifers and into us.
    How about that?
    We Kiwis? We’re a bit fucking awesome. And like Geoff Murphy, I desperately loath the talentless, monied scum who’re stealing away with us.
    Another aside I guess.

  6. I recall watching The Quiet Earth at one of the sf cons held in Wellington. The author of the book it was based on, Craig Harrison, was asked what the final scene meant: Bruno Lawrence awakens on the shores of an alien moon in orbit about a Saturn-like gas-giant planet. He shrugged. Said he hadn’t a clue – it wasn’t part of his original novel.

    Still a damn good movie though. Subtle in it’s Kiwi way. A marked contrast to the true-grit, square-jawed, action-heroics of Charlton Heston in a previous post-apocalypse movie, The Omega Man.

    Ah, Goodbye Pork Pie … it’s amazing what you can do with a mini, some narrow Wellington streets, and youthful bravado…

    Mine wasn’t yellow. It was white(ish), with a blue(ish) bonnet held down by three bungy cords. My MoT traffic tickets were carefully glued up on the ceiling of the car (till I ran out of space).

    Thanks, Geoff, for putting some adventure into our lives!

    • The stunt driver of the mini was Peter Zivkovic ( Zif) a local Island Bay boy.

      He put up some well timed and brilliantly executed maneuvers and made it look so easy. Fruits of mis-spent youthful enthusiasm paid off.

      A well groomed yellow mini was at the funeral.

    • Loved the movie, but glad someone mentioned the ‘original’ book. As an officianodo of apocalyptic writing I can categorically state ‘the Quiet Earth’ by Mr Harrison is an appalling hack of a very good plot.

      The previous incarnation of this story, “The World, the Flesh and the Devil” (1959 film)is also fairly middling.

      The original story, The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel, well, its challenging and very much ‘of its time’ (ie racist and sexist as F.) but a great reference in the development of apocalyptic writing.

      rip Geoff Murphy..

  7. My years working with Geoff were inspiring.

    He had an ongoing battle with officialdom and hide bound conservative petty kill joys who lives strait jacketed lives full of criticism and judgment of others.

    Yet that had to be worked around and shown up for what it was which Geoff reveled in.

    An artist, musician, family man and seeker of truth.

    No bullshit or greed in his dealings with people but a knack of being a catalyst for good.

  8. Geoff Murphy captured the old New Zealand that is now a distant memory with Goodbye Pork Pie released in 1981 ( set in 1978 )
    He was a national treasure and created some amazing kiwi films which will live on as an accomplishment to his talent.
    We have been blessed.

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